Ottawa researchers develop rapid review process to help WHO respond to global threats

December 22, 2016

Ms. Chantelle Garritty and collaborators in the Knowledge Synthesis Group have developed a process to help the World Health Organization (WHO) quickly create guidelines during global emergencies.

During an outbreak of a new disease, WHO needs to analyze all available data before it can provide public health recommendations. Often these recommendations have to be made within hours or days of the event. This is not enough time to do a traditional systematic review of all the existing evidence, which can take up to one to two years to complete.

Instead, the team drew upon the principles of “rapid reviews” to help guide the individuals who draft WHO’s emergency recommendations, as described in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology. Rapid reviews are being used more and more by health-care policymakers, however they often take shortcuts that may affect the accuracy of their results.

Ms. Garritty and Ms. Adrienne Stevens, both PhD students working with Dr. David Moher, have also helped form and lead the Cochrane Rapid Reviews Methods Group, which will research rapid reviews and create evidence-based ways to conduct them.

Authors: Garritty CM, Norris SL, Moher D, Stevens A, Gartlehner G, King V, Kamel C.

Funding: World Health Organization, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Ottawa Hospital Foundation

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